10 Things a General Manager Must Do Well


Here is a clip from our General Manager Process online meeting. Members can watch the whole discussion in our You Net Results members library. In this video, Brian Gillis asked a roundtable of automotive repair Owners and GM’s to list ten things that every General Manager must do well. Once our discussion was done, we had compiled a comprehensive list of duties. Read through them and focus on each one today, and then you will up your game!

Tasks 1-3 for Effective General Managers

After Brian set the table for our members, he called on veteran shop owner Jerry Kaminski. Jerry suggested that keeping an eye on your numbers is imperative. Whether you review your financial records daily or monthly, taking a regular look is key.

Next, Andy Arndt stressed how important it is to delegate tasks to your staff. No matter how skilled you are, you can’t do it all! You must trust your staff to take some of the workload off of your plate. Your time is valuable! If a general manager is stuck under a car, he or she can’t handle their administrative duties.

Task Three that a general manager must do well involves both finding and maintaining the right staff. Jim Ryckman invoked the acronym PAHR – Prepare, Attract, Hire, Retain, which is the method we teach for staffing. Without the right crew on hand, none of these other tasks are possible.

GM Duties 4-6

Our friend Dana stressed that good communication skills are essential in any management situation. You must stay cool under pressure, and learn the right things to say to both your staff and concerned customers. Above all else, listen!

Brian then called on Bart Brown, who listed leadership as his task of choice. Repair shop General Managers must continually train, and then put into practice, the methods they learn in order to guide their team. The importance of having the proper leadership vision can not be underestimated.

Edward Couture then weighed in with two more tasks that every GM must master. In order to improve workflow, you must learn to manage your time. Edward credits his time management skills with many of his business successes over the years.

Tasks 7-8 that a General Manager Must Do Well

General Managers must get buy-in from their staff

General Managers must get buy-in from their staff

Edward continued by saying that managers must learn to be diplomatic. When you are managing a team of automotive technicians and service advisors, conflicts will inevitably arise. You can not show favoritism between your children. In much the same way, you must learn to step in and resolve disagreements between your staff, whether they are personal or professional ones.

Leon said that every owner, as well as every manager, needs to designate a time one day per week to focus on the business itself. We have always taught this concept as “Working On It Tuesdays”.

It is so easy to get caught up in the day to day tasks going on in an automotive repair shop. If you do not reserve a block of time to work on the nuts and bolts of your business, then it is not going to happen. Go in your office for an hour and shut the door. Don’t forget to also tell your crew that you are not to be bothered for that hour. During that time, study the methods that will increase your effectiveness as both a leader and a general manager. It will save you countless headaches and so much time down the line. Do not do this at home! Operating hours are for business, so you need to take that time to find perspective. Then go home and recharge with your family.

GM Checklist, Tasks 9-10

Next in line, Jerry Kaminski returned to stress the importance of writing and training systems (SOPs). Writing down every task that runs a shop is necessary to get buy-in from your staff. When everyone knows the who, what, when, where, why, and how, they don’t have to hunt you down to ask!

Finally, Andy Arndt mentioned that General Managers must motivate their teams. Remind your staff members regularly that you are working toward a common goal. Share your vision when you hold your daily and weekly team meetings. When your technicians and service writers are in tune with that vision, then your shop will run like a well oiled machine!

General Manager Task List Review

To summarize this session, Brian surveyed our group of experienced auto repair shop Owners and General Managers. They determined the following list of ten things every GM must do in order to succeed:

  1. Review your numbers regularly
  2. Delegate tasks to your staff
  3. PAHR – Prepare, Attract, Hire, and Retain the right staff
  4. Master your communication skills
  5. Lead with a defined vision
  6. Manage your time
  7. Be diplomatic with your team
  8. Spend time working on the business one day each and every week (Working On It Tuesdays)
  9. Write and train SOPs
  10. Motivate your team

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